21 August 2006

NIGERIA : Japan 2006: Venezuela Cages D'Tigers

Barley 24 hours after turning the World Championships on its head with an upset victory over champions Serbia and Montenegro Nigeria's basketball team D'Tigers were brought crashing down to earth yesterday when they lost to Venezuela.
Victor Diaz, who scored 24 points, was the tormentor in chief as the Latin American country ran away 84-77 winners in the FIBA world championships taking place in Japan.
Nigeria made a late run, closing the gap to 73-68 with 3 minutes remaining, but a 3-pointer by Diaz with 20 seconds left sealed the win for Venezuela (1-1).
Diaz was 6-for-10 from the 3-point line, and Oscar Torres and Miguel Marriaga each added 14 points to give the South Americans their first win.
"Victor is our most experienced player and he hit some huge shots for us today," Venezuela coach Nestor Salazar said. "He was a lot more focused today and we needed him to step up and he did."
Venezuela, which lost 82-72 to Lebanon in its opening match, took control of the match in the second quarter, scoring 26 points to take a 42-27 lead.
Nigeria (1-1) upset defending champion Serbia-Montenegro 82-75 on Saturday but struggled against Venezuela and trailed 64-49 heading into the final period.
Ebi Ere, who scored 13 points, hit a pair of 3-pointers late in the fourth quarter to pull Nigeria within seven points but it wasn't enough.
"We came out too relaxed, not tense enough" Ere said. "In a tournament like this you've got to play hard every day. You either win or you go home."
Ime Udoka, who played for the New York Knicks last season, led Nigeria with 23 points.
Africa's second representatives Senegal lost their second match but Angola secured a second victory.
Carlos Arroyo scored 29 points and hit the first of three straight 3-pointers during the game's decisive run, leading Puerto Rico to an 88-79 victory over Senegal.
Elias Ayuso added 20 points for the Puerto Ricans (1-1), who built a big early lead, blew all of it, then recovered to even their record after losing 111-100 to the United States in their opener.
Makhtar N'Diaye and Babacar Cisse each scored 14 points for Senegal (0-2), which got off to a horrendous start.
However, Carlos Almeida scored 19 points and Angola made 12 3-pointers in an 87-62 victory over Japan yesterday in the first round of the FIBA world championships.
Almeida, who had 22 points in the opening win over Panama, hit two of his three 3s at the end of the second quarter when the African champions started to break the game open.
Japan (0-2) got off to a good start again as it did in its opening loss to Germany, leading 21-16 after the first quarter. But 6-foot-7 power forward Joaquin Gomes, who played at Valparaiso from 2000-04, started to take control inside and that allowed Angola (2-0) to get wide-open 3-point attempts.

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